As I lay next to my six-year-old Wednesday night waiting for him to fall asleep (our weekly routine when Gregg is at worship rehearsal), I wished I could have frozen that moment in time. There was something about the innocence of my son all wrapped up in his sheets and blankets surrounded by stuffed animals. I even wanted to bottle up the smells. After a summer day of playing hard, my son doesn’t exactly give off the most pleasant of scents, but it’s nothing that a quick shower can’t fix. 🙂 The long day with all of its frustrations, mistakes (mostly on my part) and tasks was over and in the peaceful stillness of the night, it was just me and my “little” boy. It seems like just yesterday we brought him home from the hospital, and in one week that baby will turn seven.
My toddler is turning into a preschooler before my eyes. I know she’ll be a teenager before I know it. Though I shouldn’t dwell on them getting older, I am not naive that these days are fleeting. I certainly can’t freeze time, but I can make the most of my time with them. They are only this young for a relatively short period, and I only have a little while to impress our values and faith upon them. The Bible warns us to make the most of our time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:16) One of the biggest realizations I have had this past year homeschooling is that I am not only educating my children at home by teaching them reading, writing and math. I am also, and more importantly, informing them how the world works, who created that world, and what their place in it might be. In other words, I am discipling them. Luke 6:40 says, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher”.
Being with my children day in and day out presents me with multiple chances to share Christ with them and with others as well. A sibling squabble or a fight between one of my kids and his/her friends can be opportunities to teach my children about grace, forgiveness, and handling conflict in a godly way. Disrespectful attitudes and rude speech can be used to tell them about how Jesus wants us to treat others. Through holding everything they learn up to what the Word Of God says, they learn the authority and inerrancy of Scripture. By understanding that they are created in the image of God, my son and daughter will believe in the sanctity of life and the great love of their heavenly Father not only for them, but for all people. Moreover, spiritual disciplines such as prayer, Bible study, scripture memorization and Christian service can be taught and modeled if I am intentional about it.
The reality is that children are quite impressionable in their formative years, and they are bombarded daily with “hollow and deceptive philosophies” that are diametrically opposed to the Word of God through two main pipelines, secular entertainment and secular education. In his book “Family Driven Faith: Doing What It Takes To Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk With God”, Voddie Baucham states that a child’s worldview – what they think about God, man, knowledge, ethics, and truth – affects all of their decisions and actions throughout their lives. Their beliefs in these five areas affect how they behave, and they do not realize how or when these views are being formed. As their parents, we are their first line of defense against ideologies that distort God’s truth. By availing ourselves to them now, thought it entails sacrifice, we can provide them with a solid biblical foundation which they will need when they encounter ideas that conflict with their faith.
Not surprisingly, Jesus educated His disciples and those around Him in the pattern and method set forth in Deuteronomy 6 and other Old Testament passages. Jesus taught and instructed as He walked by the way, as He ate, as He drank, as He lived. He engaged people in discussion and conversation. He was available to answer questions. He developed relationships and used every opportunity and every circumstance to point people toward His Father, to challenge them and encourage them to more faithful, godly living. This is the way that God commands parents to educate their children. Mothers and fathers should be instructing their children throughout the day, during their daily activities and in all the circumstances of life.
In one 4.5 million dollar sociological study, the results showed that children’s spiritual lives are strongest when their friends, family, sports, religion, and education “somehow” overlap. Put simply, all areas of a child’s life have to be congruent with his or her faith. This study was written by a non-Christian, anti-homeschooling sociologist, but he is onto something here! For the best chance of kids’ faith taking root in their hearts and minds, all “slices of the pie” should hold the same worldview. If one area espouses a radically different belief system from all the others, the child will end up with conflicting values. Ultimately, the one he has had the most exposure to during his youth will be the one he defaults to later in life.
My job as a parent, trying to instill Biblical values in my children, is an uphill battle all the way when they are continually fed philosophies that are incompatible with God’s Word. Obviously, I can’t put my kids in a bubble, nor would I want to. If they are never exposed to germs, they will not build up a resistance to them. Rather, they should get just enough of a dosage that it inoculates them against the secular humanistic ideas of the day. Examining the worldview that dominates our culture, under our protection and through the filter of the Bible, can give them the ability to counter it with the proper defense. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” There is an old adage that says whoever has the child’s heart will be the one discipling them. As a mom I hold the greatest position of influence over my kids, and make the most of the time, when I diligently train them and shape their character by the application of biblical discipline.